Title: Double-Cross My Heart
Author: Brandon Hill
“Turned at a tender age, and left with no memory of her human life, Elisa, the beloved adopted daughter of Talante, has had many obvious difficulties in her near two centuries of life, but none so frustrating as her inability to find love – that is until a dire mission leads her to Derek, another vampire turned in his formative years, and the de facto leader of a clan of vagabonds: vampires who choose to take no sides in the ten millennia long war between her symbiotic clan and the dominating breed of her father’s hated enemy. But her happiness is only a prelude to heartbreak as she learns secrets of a past she thought erased, which may cost her the trust and love of the one who holds the greatest portion of her heart.”
“Are you their leader, or not?” I asked again. My question triggered a burst of anger, quickly suppressed, then frustration. Derek opened, then closed his mouth several times before inhaling deeply, struggling to find a place of calm before speaking again.
“We don’t like to say we have a ‘leader,’ he explained making air quotes, “but I guess I fit the bill. I’m the go-to guy for things. They do what I tell them, if it’s within reason. I say where we go next, and arrange things like hunting parties, clean-up, buying supplies, protection, et cetera. They trust me. I have no idea why, but they do.”
“Why wouldn’t they?” I asked. “You seem a capable enough leader.”
“Yeah, but I don’t look it.” Derek gestured across the breadth of his body, only a head and a half taller than me, but still, noticeably more mature: muscles more developed, if his frame beneath the hoodie were any indication, his features still soft, but frozen in the midst of maturing while I was little more than a tiny, slender, round-faced “China doll,” as he’d taken to calling me. Nevertheless, no one would have been able to mistake him for an adult. He was far too short, and nowhere near filled out enough.
“This body isn’t without its problems. There are places I can’t go, even with adult supervision. Hell, I couldn’t go into a bar even if I wanted to. I get harassed by the police wherever I go, especially in places where there’s a curfew. I can’t even get smokes by myself; Joe has to do that for me! I also can’t disguise myself as an adult, because I never learned to shape-shift, even when I was running with Lothos’ pack. That little disability put me at peon level with the clan, just to add insult to injury. When I got away and joined this group, Syd and Joe were the only ones who seemed to give two shits about me.”
“Syd?” I asked. And as if the night had become darker, a pall of melancholy overlapped Derek’s thoughts.
“He was the head guy before me.” He looked away as if he’d been ashamed to talk about it. “Lothos’ soldiers got him a couple of weeks back. Tell the truth, that really messed us up. He’d been running this pack for about eighty years before. Didn’t realize he was grooming me to take his place until he was gone. I didn’t even know how old he was, or where he came from. But … well, I inherited a clan from him, as you can see.”
“Then that means they truly do look up to you.”
I am a native of Louisiana and current resident of Lake Charles. An avid and frequent reader of science fiction and fantasy, I began writing in the eleventh grade. I am a graduate of McNeese State University in Lake Charles. I am a ‘classic nerd’ and prolific writer who has had dreams of authorship since childhood. I sketch perhaps even more prolifically than I write, and have drawings of just about every character my warped imagination has come up with. I hope to continue sharing these ideas, characters, and stories with others for years to come.